Joe Lieberman (contender for the 2004 US Democratic presidential nomination) proposed the creation of a new American Center for Cures in May 2003, and it has been getting some coverage in the media of late.
A friend (my lawyer, actually) sent me a note about it because they referenced a knowledge management aspect of this project. In the press release above, they talk about a knowlege bank:
The Knowledge Bank will help coordinate clinical trials of new treatments and provide resources to scientists by overseeing gene banks, voluntary patient databases, and tissue banks. It would also include a virtual Public Library of Medicine to allow researchers to disseminate findings more readily.
Knowledge management for clinical trials is typically the responsibility of the company running the trials. They collect the reports from hospitals and doctors doing the research (frequently via a third party CRO - clinical research organization). From my friends who deal with this stuff, simply getting the root data together in a useful form is fraught with enough pain that doing more interesting analyses, as suggested by this brief blurb, are frequently never done. On the other hand, Pfizer's discovery of Viagra is said to have come about because a researcher happened to see a correlation in the written reports as the drug was being tested for blood pressure modification.
The concept of creating a knowledge bank is excellent, and if done right, could support much more than just the researchers at the "American Center for Cures." Imagine a consistent electronic reporting system for all clinical research that enables medical staff to easily report their findings and allows the clinical researchers to both study the main results and discover hidden correlations. Even the FDA might like to hear about the possibilities here.
Note: it is sad to see that several Lieberman websites have already been taken down. blogforjoe.com and joecare.com appear to be no more, even though they are at the top of the Google hits on this topic.